Re: Save the date!
If its meant to be visible from the UK then I guarantee that cloud will still be around.
284 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Sep 2011
*shrug* we have that in the UK between GP and pharmacy with no id card required(*). The downside of course is that if your selected pharmacy is closed for any reason then, depending on your prescription, you may be stuffed.
(*) in the UK most regular prescriptions come via your GP, even if the initial one comes via hospital.
Wow, all this angsting about simple gotos. I would mention languages with label variables and the good old computed goto from Fortran, but the first commercial project I ever worked on used an interpreted Basic variant with a language feature that even I thought was a step too far:
return n ( where n could be a numeric value or variable )
Whats special about that you're thinking, it simply returns the value n to the caller.
No no no.
What it actually did was to return control to the (numbered) Basic line that was n lines before or after the line containing the call to the subroutine terminated by this return statement.
Oh, and variable names had a maximum length of 2 characters and comments were discouraged since they were held in the (small amount of) memory along with the program code & data.
Don't get me started on overlaying data in Coral...
The relentless rise in house prices is, of course, another economic trick. So long as it is classed as "wealth creation" then it improves all those important numbers the government have chosen to use to measure the state of the UK economy; treat it as inflation, however, and the UK is significantly closer to the economic mire (since GDP for one is meant to be nett of inflation). This explains why so much of our money has gone into first boosting prices and then subsidising first time buyers who can no longer afford them. It is by far the easiest and quickest way to "improve" the economy. The end result being hugely increased levels of debt and the BoE no longer able to increase interest rates until some external event lets them off the hook they happily swallowed.
Apart from its selective targetting, the main problem with the bedroom tax is that alternative housing does not exist in most areas, so those affected have no choice except to take a cut in their income.
So while it may not qualify as a tax it is certainly a cut in this particular payment.
Of course if the government had done as they promised and replaced the housing they forced local councils to sell off (*) on a one-to-one basis then this might have been less of a problem, but since they've failed to replace even 10% of those sold its just a tad hypocritical to blame those who now can't move out of their "too large" homes.
(*) most have ended up with Buy-To-Let owners who are subsidised by the taxpayer; in fact if you combine this with the cost of (theoretically) replacing the sold-off houses with smaller ones, then you'd be hard put to see this entire policy as anything other than a way to transfer our money from those don't have much to those who do.
"PFI was largely just Brown up to his usual trick of making the future pay for his present"
PFI was invented by the Tories under Major; they were told it was a neat way of keeping expenditure off the UK books so that our economic figures would look better than they should - and they bought it.
Labour under Blair and Brown continued on this basis as did the Coalition and now the current government. None of them have shown any misgivings about PFI or its successors.
( for overseas readers, PFI is a method by which the private sector borrows money at 7 to 8% to pay for infrastructure projects such as major hospitals, schools, etc, which they then lease to the public at a premium rate, together with a buildings service contract also at a premium rate, and then after ~20 years they end up owning some very valuable property to do with as they wish. You will be unsurprised that there is a thriving trade in PFI contracts once they've been signed off. You may also wonder how such agreements can be justified when the government can borrow at ~2%; the simple answer is that the civil service / special advisers fiddle the numbers until they get the result they want - just like in Greece, really )
Amusingly the consultancies that make lots of money advising on new PFI scheme then make more money on helping organisations get out of them several years later when new bosses come in and discover just how deep in they are.
I wonder if the BBC web site counts as mobile friendly ?
Its bad enough having to click 10+ times to get to the start of a single ongoing story from a laptop, it must be even more frustrating from a phone. OTOH, it does have that lovely new layout.
Actually, what am I saying ?
10+ needless extra clicks on a web page - of course it will pass a Google check !
I remember using a Basic dialect which had a "return n" instruction, where n was a signed integer indicating the number of statements before/after the end of the originating call instruction to which the routine should return (so n = -1 would invoke the same call again ). The fun we had...
Well the Tories introduced PFI(*) and are still enthusiastic promoters of new PFI schemes, whereas Labour were/are indeed enthusiastic converts to the various ways in which figures can be fiddled.
It all comes down to the Westminster politicians need to keep in with the City - see also the various x-to-Buy schemes intended to funnel money to the banks et al while keeping asset values high. Whether this need is real or a fiction created by senior civil servants and special advisers is unclear.
(*) note for furriners: PFI is a technique by which large contracts, e.g. building a major hospital, are funded by the private sector rather than the government, in return for which the former receive guaranteed payments for 20 or 30 years ( and in some cases keep ownership of the land/buildings at the end of that period ); this allows the government to claim the cost is "off balance sheet" so they don't need to include it in their expenditure figures. One problem is that governments can raise large amounts of money significantly cheaper than private firms, so when calculating how much a PFI contract will save the taxpayer a special factor is applied to increase the nominal cost of the public sector stumping up the money; this factor varies for each contract to ensure a decent estimate for the amount saved. In practice there is no long term obligation for this saving to be realised.
So if someone is accused solely on the basis of files found on their computer their defence lawyer can tell the jury there must be "reasonable doubt" since the evidence could have been planted, quite legally, by an 'authorised agency' who are under no obligation to disclose their action to the court ?
"Everyone knows that British rockets will launch from a rocket sled riding on rails"
I never really understood why they landed the main craft each time they returned to Space City when for most of their extra-terrestrial visits they used Junior and left the rest in orbit.
Personally I like the idea of removing all corporation tax laws; this would also remove all the stuff about capital allowances, offsetting against losses, intra-company accounting, etc. As a reasonable quid pro quo we could also remove all limited liability protection laws (especially for partnerships !) - after all, we do have quite a large insurance industry that I'm sure would be ready and willing to fill the gap.
I'm sure it is a complete coincidence that all of the major political parties have enthusiastically taken up offers of free advice from the major accountancy consultancies over the last 15 years or so.
( I see the latter's latest area of financial entrepreneurship is to advise local government how to get out of the ludicrous PFI contracts they previously obliged them to sign up to by setting the rules from within central government - it is difficult not to admire their, err, flexibility ).
As someone who was in Scotland several times in the weeks leading up to the referendum I saw / heard:
- little in the way of anti-English sentiment, but a fair amount of anti-Westminster stuff;
- a lot of street-level engagement, with a great deal of political discussion, spontaneous demos, etc;
- groups of pro/anti supporters nodding to each other as they passed in the street while canvassing;
- a really nasty march in favour of the union involving members of Orange Lodges from Glasgow and NI;
- disillusionment with the media, especially the BBC (due to higher expectations), which from my limited time there seemed quite justifiable.
Personally I think the SNP made some significant mistakes with their media management, especially in terms of responding to attacks, and that the independence timetable was obviously unrealistic given the complexity of the task - maybe Salmond wanted to be sure he was still around to see it ?
As a PS, a friend of mine voted against independence as he runs a small company doing very nicely from contracts with EU companies that require no transmission of data outside of the EU. He is, of course, aware that this may have only won them a couple of years respite.
Does this mean that the government appealed an arbitration ruling to the courts on the grounds that although the arbitration procedure was agreed between the two parties involved it still had to be performed in accordance with UK law, i.e. the Arbitration Act ?
No wonder the new transatlantic trade deal is so popular in some quarters.
"Government is the most inefficient way to distribute money"
I disagree. The financial sector is by far and away the most highly subsidized industry in modern history. In the UK we distribute tax payer's money to banks who are then less dependent on money from savers and hence can increase the gap between their loan & deposit interest rates leading to much improved margins which in turn justify higher bonuses etc. Looks pretty efficient to me.
But if you're self-employed, e.g. as a lawyer, your communications are commercial/legal, not personal.
Or will personal end up meaning "sent to or from a person" ?
For some reason our current crop of politicians seem determined to construct a fully equipped ready-to-go totalitarian state, just waiting for the wrong people to move in at the top, no assembly required.
I'm (almost) sure the politicians don't see the risks because they know themselves to be thoroughly decent chaps, but it does seem to show a breathtaking arrogance to ignore the very history they insist our children should be learning.
"Guess what, the bad people will just move on to another technology, develop their own dark nets, internet protocol or even create and use encrypted botnets to communicate"
Guess what, the bad people will simply move in at the top of what will have become a fully equipped ready-to-go totalitarian state, no assembly required.
Well poverty can't be that serious because those nice coalition people are reducing universal benefit payments next year to compensate for the cost of removing air passenger duty for children flying off on jolly foreign holidays ( £100+ million ).
Luckily the ( £30 billion) benefits for low-pay employers are not affected.
As pointed out in Private Eye last week, the architect of the great Luxembourg tax shelter is now, err, running the EU.
Hence the current European investigation into large companies and tax avoidance schemes has been carefully scoped to look for suspect tax deals between member states and individual companies, but to exclude "tax-competitive" arrangements that a country makes available to all companies.
Yes it applies to all search engines, but Google tend to publish only their own numbers - probably provided in journalist-friendly form to increase the chance that the Google version is the one that appears (i.e. standard procedure for large corporations and overworked journalists/unpaid interns).
The search results affected when Google agree with a request (or are overruled by a court) are those where the query mentions the relevant person by name.
"I have never read a Doctor Who novel "
Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds; an entertaining read, especially if you remember the Jon Pertwee doctor and, indeed, Delgado's Master
There is also "Wheel of Ice" by Stephen Baxter, set in the era of the Patrick Troughton doctor, although I thought that was a bit more obviously 'young adult'